Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Addiction and Substance Abuse

Blood alcohol level over .400

06/30/2009

Question:

What happens to a person who drinks daily and very possibly maintains a blood alcohol level of over .400 (not .04, but .40). I know this to be a fact cause when he has been taken to the hospital, he`s had levels of 423 and 440 and dr. said that`s usually a lethal limit, but since he`s alcohol tolerant, it wasn`t for him. What can happen if it`s constantly at that level on a daily basis for months at a time? How does it affect their brain and organs? Can they die even though they are alcohol tolerant?

Answer:

Every person is going to have different consequences related to alcohol. However, in general, drinking to levels of over .400 mg/dl on a daily basis has the potential to cause severe damage to all body organs, including the brain. Damage can include heart disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver, bleeding of the stomach and the intestines, depression, and memory loss (dementia).

The greatest threat to life in a person drinking this much would be to stop drinking abruptly, which would likely lead to alcohol withdrawal, including seizures and delirium tremens (DTs). Stopping alcohol in this instance should be done under close supervision by a physician. The tolerance to alcohol would not kill the individual per se--the tolerance is just a gradual process whereby the individual's brain and body becomes used to very high levels of alcohol.

For more information:

Go to the Addiction and Substance Abuse health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Christina M Delos Reyes, MD Christina M Delos Reyes, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University